Hint: We Don’t.
“We don’t so much solve our problems as we outgrow them. We add capacities and experiences that eventually make us bigger than the problems.”
— C.G. Jung
A long time ago an ex-partner of mine said in frustration “we don’t always have to be growing and changing!” To which I responded, “yes we do! If we aren’t growing then we’re dead.”
It was the point in our relationship where he was finally fed up with my growth and constant attempts to drag him along with me. He just wanted to be left alone to be him and in my mind, that wasn’t good enough. I had become rabid in my quest for knowledge, for an expansion of my soul, for a deeper understanding of who I was, who we were, and how we were all connected at a collective level.
I now realize that it was completely fair of him to not expect me to constantly be hounding him to grow and change. It simply was the fact of our relationship. I was hungry for expansion and he wasn’t. We were fundamentally different in this internal sense and it didn’t make either of us wrong or bad, it simply made us not a great fit as life partners.
In a life rich with exploration, growth, and expansion we are always learning something. Personally, but also collectively. So much of what I have seen in my self, with clients, and societally at large this last year feels reminiscent of how Jung spoke about problems. We have (well, at least many of us) been adding capacities, learning, growing, and thus shedding a lot of the old problems or ways of being and thinking we once identified with.
“The greatest and most important problems of life are all in a certain sense insoluble…. They can never be solved, but only outgrown…. “
— C.G. Jung
To me, many of the collective issues we are being faced with — racial injustice, political strife, staunch conservatism versus progressiveness, climate change, prioritizing the mental and physical health of our people — ultimately problems circulating around the kind of society we wish to have and the kind of people we wish to be, are in a sense, insoluble. They are not simple math equations where 1+1 = 2 (although some of them feel like they should be).